Bringing a collapsed basement back to life: Flooding wreaks havoc on local man's basement

Shown here is the collapsed basement of Linus Mayer's 1001 S. Kimball St. home following the recent two-day rainstorm (Sam Fosness / Republic)

Linus Mayer is no stranger to dealing with a flooded basement in the midst of severe rainfall.

But never has he witnessed the amount of standing water that filled his basement to the brim early Thursday morning during the recent two-day rainstorm. The basement of Mayer’s 1001 S. Kimball St. home was one of several that collapsed as a result of the severe storm that pounded Mitchell with roughly 7 to 10 inches of rain.

“I heard a crash when I was sleeping in my bed upstairs,and the house shook,” Mayer said in an interview with The Daily Republic. “I just thought maybe something fell off a shelf, and I took two steps inside the house and the water was right at the first step of the basement.”

As Mayer made his way to scope out the basement Thursday at about 1 a.m., he came upon 8 feet of standing water. Then, the basement walls began to cave in, causing the basement to collapse.

While the water never climbed onto the main floor of the home, Mayer said he was beginning to worry it might.


“I ended up getting out of the house and stood on the steps in front of my door, because my electrical box was in the basement,” Mayer said, while standing in his yard next to a pile of rubble Wednesday afternoon.

Surprisingly, Mayer had electricity despite his electrical box being submerged. But he left the home as a safety precaution.

When Mayer’s grandkids arrived to aid him during the rainstorm, he said they noticed a hole on the side of the house, which is where Mayer believes much of the water seeped into his basement. According to Mayer, the hole was likely caused by the pressure of the water flowing up against his home during the flooding.

“The hole on the side of the house wasn’t there before the flooding hit, so it had to be from the rainstorm,” he said. “I didn’t even know the hole was there.”

Mayer has lived in the home since 1986. Just across the street sits Klock Werks, one of the local businesses whose building suffered perhaps the most water damage.

“I’ve seen plenty of floods in this area, but nothing this high in my life,” he said. “Flooding over here has been happening for the 30-some years I’ve been here.”

As the weather cleared, Mayer and his son assessed the damage of his home and the basement. After pumping out as much water as possible, Mayer said it was clear that the basement walls collapsed and tough task was about to begin.

Determined to remain living in the home he’s resided at for over three decades, Mayer decided he would repair his basement and start anew.


“My family and I cleaned out the basement, so they’ll be able to go in and pour the concrete now that it’s raised,” Mayer said. “I’m just going to keep moving forward through this.”

The first step in the process involved cleaning out the remnants of the basement to allow a hired contractor to raise the house.

As of now, the house is raised about a foot high from the ground level. But in some areas there’s about 2 feet of separation between Mayer’s yard and the home, which is enough space for the hired workers to fit there equipment into the basement and begin rebuilding the walls and floor.

“The top half of my house is saved, thankfully,” Mayer said. “We hauled out three dump trailers of items in the basement already.”

Life after the rainstorm hasn’t been easy for Mayer. He’s been living out of his camper across the street, which has added more challenges to his daily life considering it too suffered significant water damage from the flooding. With winter approaching, Mayer said he hopes to have his basement fully repaired in a month from now.

“My camper had water reach the floor, and it needed to dry out as well. I will likely have to tear up the flooring,” he said of his camper. “Now I have some sewer troubles with it.”

Along with the help of his family, Mayer said Davison County Emergency Management Supervisor Jeff Bathke extended additional aid. Through the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), Mayer could likely receive financial assistance, which is a process that Bathke is able to help guide flood victims through.

Although Mayer lost some valuables that were stored in the basement, he was able to save some memorabilia such as his wooden wheelchair and old jewelry.


Despite having to adjust living out of his water damaged camper, while rearranging his finances to bring his home back to life, Mayer’s gritty outlook on the road to recovery remains in tact.

“Life goes on,” Mayer said, while glancing at his raised home. “I have to keep moving forward. We’ll get through it all.”

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
What To Read Next
All that is required is a subtle rising motion in the air or a subtle cooling of the air at cloud level.
Such a forecast would be nearly impossible because wind over land is much more turbulent than wind over water.
Arctic air returns to our region
Some people believe that wind chill is just hype and that only the temperature and wind speed should be reported.